Glenn Maxwell reveals how Ricky Ponting inspired the greatest ever T20 run-chase
February 16, 2018, is the date when the greatest ever run chase in T20I cricket was recorded.
Australia were squaring off against the Black Caps in what was the fifth T20I of the Trans-Tasman Twenty20 Tri-Series.
Electing to bat first, New Zealand set up a massive total of 243 thanks to a brilliant century from Martin Guptill and quickfire 76 off 33 from Colin Munro.
The Aussies were back to the dressing room knowing that chasing such a massive total was always going to be an uphill task. The legendary Ponting was the assistant to the then coach Darren Lehmann.
'We're going to chase these runs down, comfortably – not just reach the target, we're going to chase these runs down with an over to spare' - Maxwell told Cricket Australia what Ponting had told them after they came to the dressing room.
The top 5 in the Aussie batting line up at the time were Chris Lynn, David Warner, D'Arcy Short, Maxwell, and Aaron Finch. Cumulatively, they were easily the best top 5 in the world.
Maxwell, for whom Ponting is also an idol, further explained to Cricket Australia:
"That's the sort of confidence that he gave us as a team. Not only by the words he said, but through the conviction with which he said them. The confidence that he gave the group when he walked into the changeroom was undoubted, and just something different."
The explosive Maxwell also shared that Ponting has the ability to work on the flaws of a batsman without actually changing their natural game.
"He makes you feel like you can walk on water sometimes. He's a good person for the batters to talk different tactics with because he can read someone's technique really well. He can even change your mindset with just a conversation because of his amazing ability," Maxwell further added.
What is amazing is that Australia chased down the total in the penultimate over itself - in line with what Ponting had predicted.
Warner smashed 59 off 24, Short played a sublime knock of 76 off 44, Lynn chipped in with 18 runs, and Maxwell played an exquisite cameo of 31 off 14.
Finally, the 36 off 14 balls from Finch did the job for Australia. They had all done it together as a team - orchestrated the finest and biggest run-chase in the history of T20I cricket.
Those words from Ponting, who has recently been appointed as the assistant coach for the Australian team for the World Cup, had spurred the Australian team to go for the win by playing fearlessly.
Ponting knows what it takes to win the most prestigious tournament in World Cricket as he is a three-time World Cup winner himself.
Being the assistant coach for the World Cup will be his most challenging assignment with the national team so far albeit he has had short stints in the coaching staff in the past. There will be a sense of assurance in the Australian team as he will be around.
Even though Aussies would not be the favourites heading to the quadrennial tournament, the presence of Ponting is sure to improve their chances to defend the title.